Four Razored Virtues Style
Developed in the latter days of the Second Age of Man, the Four-Razored Virtues is a combat style designed to counter the rising tides of darkness that threatened to destroy Creation. Originally created in a joint effort between a Zenith Caste Solar and a Chosen of the Maiden of Secrets, practitioners of this Style are flickering beacons of hope in the night. The Four-Razored Virtues Style is an example of a Celestial Martial Art of the most powerful sort – Martial Arts Styles that seek to surpass it in terms of power and potential must pursue the Blossoming of the Perfected Lotus, a.k.a. the Sidereal Initation. It stresses unyielding vigilance and strong offensive and defensive techniques intended to destroy denizens of Malfeas and the Underworld and bolster the barriers that mark the limits of Creation.
Armor and Weapons: practitioners of this Style wielding slashing swords are considered unarmed for the purposes of all Charms in this Style. None of the Charms of the Four-Razored Virtues Style are compatible with armor.
Concepts and Associations: Purity and economy of motion. Perfected intent. The element of Earth, the colors white, black and gold, and the Central direction. Confluences and the meeting points of various lines of force. Barriers, both reinforced and transcended.
Steely-Eyed Sentinel Technique</b>
<b>Cost:3 motes Duration: Instant Type: Reflexive Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Prerequisite Charms: None
Men may lie with their words, but their actions inevitably betray them. The first step along the Path of the Razor is this lesson. By observing an opponent in combat – either with himself or another – for no less than one full round, the martial artist weighs the nature of his spirit. When this Charm is used, the martial artist discerns the following facts about his opponent: his Permanent Essence and Virtue ratings, his skill in the combat Ability currently being used, along with how many Charms of that ability his opponent knows (but not which ones), and his opponent’s supernatural nature (i.e. a Celestial Exalt, Demon-Blood, Fair One, human, Little God, etc.). If the opponent is aware that he is being observed, the martial artist rolls Perception + Martial Arts opposed by his opponent’s Wits + Essence in order to glean their secrets.
Unflinching Guardian Stance</b>
<b>Cost:5 motes Duration: One Scene Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Prerequisite Charms: Steely-Eyed Sentinel Technique
The righteous warrior need never fear his lessers. This Charm encompasses a set of fighting techniques known as the Four Heroic Postures and allows the Martial Artist to move smoothly between them, bringing his spirit and form into a pure harmony. Each turn before initiative is rolled, the character may reflexively choose to enter one of the Four Heroic Postures, or to move from one Posture to another. Only one Posture may be employed at any given time.
~ Leaf Falling on Water Stance: “A calm heart rides the currents of the world, and in his stillness, his eyes are opened.” By maintaining a dispassionate and observant posture, one’s mind is open to the weakness of one’s foes. The martial artist increases the base damage of his attacks by his Temperance, if his Temperance exceeds that of his opponent. The martial artist may always channel Temperance on any roll while in this Posture.
~ Falcon Dives at Hawk Stance: “In desperate times it is the duty of the righteous to stand against the oppressive. When your spirit quails, become desperate yourself.” By adopting a selfless mind, the warrior distances himself from fear and worry and may act without regret. The martial artist receives a bonus to his Initiative and Accuracy totals equal to his Conviction, if his Conviction exceeds that of his opponent. The martial artist may always channel Conviction on any roll while in this Posture.
~ Field of Orchids Stance: “An enemy is simply a friend in bad circumstances. Become of one heart with your fellow man, and he cannot harm you.” By matching his heartbeat to the pulse of Essence through his opponent, the warrior moves in perfect conjunction with him. The martial artist increases the difficulty to strike him in combat by his Compassion, if his Compassion exceeds that of his opponent. The martial artist may always channel Compassion on any roll while in this Posture.
~ Shadow of the Mountain Stance: “Fear not the mountain, for it moves not on its own; fear is found in its shadow.” The warrior is implacable and resolute; where his shadow falls, the cowardly take flight. Opponents wishing to attack the martial artist in combat must pass a Valor check to do so, if the martial artist's Valor exceeds their own. The martial artist may always channel Valor on any roll while in this Posture.
<b>Cost:6 motes Duration: One Scene Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Prerequisite Charms: None
The Exalt moves his hands through the air in a holy sutra, trailing flows of golden-white Essence that wreathe themselves about the character’s hands and weapon and chime softly as they follow his movements. For the duration of the scene the Exalt’s unarmed attacks sap the strength of the unclean and evil. Any time a denizen of Malfeas or the Underworld suffers damage from the martial artist’s unarmed attacks, they lose a number of motes of Essence equal to the martial artist’s Essence rating. The Exalt regains half these motes (rounded down); the other half are lost – gifted by the martial artist back to Creation to buttress it from the devils that seek its destruction.
Fallen From Grace Blow</b>
<b>Cost:5 motes Duration: Instant Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Prerequisite Charms: Tithe-of-Heaven Technique
The Exalt strikes his opponent a blow to a spiritually significant location (crown, sternum, “center” below navel, etc.) and loudly proclaims that they are an Enemy of Heaven and will find no comfort under the Sun. Until a number of sunsets equal to the martial artist’s Permanent Essence plus his primary Virtue have passed, the target is unable to heal or regain Essence by nonmagical means. Hearthstones or magical healing have half their normal efficacy. The Exalt who used the Charm may also track the target, gaining a number of automatic successes on any attempt to track them equal to the number of Health Levels suffered by the target from this attack. The effects of this Charm apply only within the bounds of Creation and Yu-Shan.
Four-Razored Virtues Form</b>
<b>Cost:8 motes Duration: One Scene Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 5 Prerequisite Charms: Unflinching Guardian Stance, Fallen From Grace Blow
With a great sigh the winds of the world swirl about the martial artist, whispering to him blessings from the five corners of Creation in his own voice. For a moment in which time slows the Exalt stands with his eyes shut, matching his pulse to the rivers, linking his bones to the earth. When he opens his eyes, a great pillar of light bathes him in incandescent fire, and his enemies feel a great weight settle around them.
With the forces of Heaven and Earth lending him strength, the martial artist becomes as implacable as a force of nature. For the remainder of the scene, whenever the Exalt suffers Health levels of damage, he may choose to spend Essence to negate it at the cost of 1 mote per level of Bashing damage or 2 motes per level of Lethal damage. This is not regeneration – the injury that the Exalt should have sustained is drowned into the bones of the world, of which he is now a part, and so is never suffered in the first place. Aggravated damage cannot be negated in this manner.
A character may use only one Form-type Charm at any given time.
<b>Cost:8 motes Duration: Instant Type: Reflexive Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 5 Prerequisite Charms: Four-Razored Virtues Form
With a sharp kiai, the Exalt throws his Essence outward in a ripple of irresistable force. The martial artist rolls Charisma + Martial Arts; the difficulty is equal to the permanent Essence rating of the opponent whose attack he wishes to counter. If successful, the attack is completely negated. If the roll is not successful, apply the number of successes the martial artist rolled as defensive successes for everyone caught in the attack’s area of effect, allowing the Exalt to blunt attacks even if he cannot completely prevent them. This Charm can even turn aside area-effect assaults such as spells and breath weapons, though in the case of magical assaults with a duration the effects are only suspended for a number of turns equal to the successes on the martial artist’s roll. No more than one Thunderbolt Shredding Shout can be attempted against any single attack.
Refulgent Aeon Consecration</b>
<b>Cost:15 motes, 1 Willpower Duration: One Scene Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 6 Minimum Essence: 6 Prerequisite Charms: Thunderbolt-Shredding Shout
With a tremendous rush of wind and a blinding flare of light, the Martial Artist summons vast quantities of Essence into himself. His anima immediately flares to iconic level (as if he had spent 16+ motes of Peripheral Essence), and his eyes flash with the wrath of his patron deity. Extras within ten yards who witness this display flee in terror (automatically fail their Valor rolls). For the duration of the scene, the Exalt’s Physical Attributes are increased by his highest Virtue and he is capable of soaking Lethal and even Aggravated damage with his full Stamina. Opponents within (Essence x 5) feet of the Exalt suffer dice of Lethal damage equal to his Essence every round as his anima burns them with holy flame; this damage cannot be soaked with armor. Last, the Exalt cannot fail Virtue rolls, though he remains capable of spending Willpower to temporarily suppress Virtue compulsion.
Eye of the Hurricane Severance</b>
<b>Cost:8 motes, 1 Willpower Duration: Instant Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 5 Prerequisite Charms: Four-Razored Virtues Form
Battle is a hurricane, a swirling chaos that destroys and distracts with unparalleled fervor. In the midst of all this, one whose soul is pure and thoughts clear can master his fear and his opponent with equal ease. With movements practiced until they are as natural as breathing, the martial artist smoothly steps back and replaces his sword in its sheath. With a hand that waits as far from the hilt as the edge of a thought and eyes that pierce the veil between worlds, he waits for the perfect moment to strike.
This Charm must be declared before initiative is rolled, and the martial artist may not take defensive actions during the turn in which he uses this Charm. On any initiative count that he wishes during this turn, the Exalt may make a single Martial Arts attack roll on an opponent within range, which cannot be parried or dodged. Damage from this attack ignores armor and cannot be reduced by any means – this is a Perfect effect.
Lightning With Three Prongs Technique</b>
<b>Cost:10 motes Duration: Instant Type: Supplemental Minimum Martial Arts: 6 Minimum Essence: 5 Prerequisite Charms: Eye of the Hurricane Severance
Against those who would defile the laws of Heaven and Earth, a virtuous heart and a focused mind are deadlier than any arm or blade. With the ring of steel and a flash of gold, the Exalt strikes his opponent with righteous fury, trailing streamers of Essence that bite like razored winds. The martial artist makes his Martial Arts attack as normal, but if the attack is successful, he applies the raw damage of the attack a number of times equal to his permanent Essence rating. Against foes marked as Enemies of Heaven by the Fallen From Grace Blow, this attack does Aggravated damage.
<b>Cost:25 motes, 1 Willpower Duration: Special Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 6 Prerequisite Charms: Eye of the Hurricane Severance
Through this ritual, the Exalt seeks to strengthen the boundaries of Creation and rescue a part of it that has fallen to the influence of the Wyld or the Underworld. The martial artist begins a complex kata that repeats exactly once each hour it is performed. As he moves, the ground around him is cleansed of outside influence, firming to rich soil and green life, clean water and fresh air once more – land retrieved from the touch of chaos and death.
The area of effect continues to grow at the rate of one mile in radius for each day the Exalt maintains the kata without ceasing. Each day after the first that the Exalt maintains the kata, he must roll Stamina + Martial Arts to continue; the difficulty of the roll is equal to the number of days the Exalt has already maintained the kata. Failure indicates that the Exalt has reached his limit and must perform the final moves of the kata or lose all he has accomplished. Performing the kata’s final moves is a process that takes one hour and makes the Charm’s effects permanent. If the kata is ended without performing the final moves, the rescued land will revert to its previous state over the course of the next 24 hours.
If the kata is interrupted for any reason for more than one minute in an hour, the Charm is broken as if ended without performing the final moves. Only land that was once a part of Creation can be rescued through the use of this Charm – it cannot be used to carve new territories out of the Wyld, nor drag portions of the Underworld into the light if they were never part of Creation.
Walking the Razor's Edge</b>
<b>Cost:20 motes, 1 Willpower Duration: Exalt's Essence in turns Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 6 Minimum Essence: 6 Prerequisite Charms: Creation-Affirming Kata
There is a place where all that is order meets; where the worlds that make up everything known to men or gods lie close to each other. The space there is as thin as a blade, and only the true son of righteousness walks it without fear. With this Charm the Exalt meditates for a full minute, then slices a hole in reality and may walk the edge that marks the boundaries between Creation, Malfeas, the Underworld, Heaven and the Wyld. Regardless of the success of his endeavor, the portal opened by this Charm cannot be closed by the Exalt before its intended duration expires. Only Countermagic of the Second Circle or greater can seal the doorway prematurely.
Travel via this Charm is nigh-instantaneous, requiring just one turn per 100 miles to be traversed. The Exalt rolls Wits + Martial Arts to successfully create the path he wishes. If successful, the portal opens on any location familiar to the Exalt within (Essence x 100) miles. Failure results in a path that is incomplete or too dangerous to be traveled; anything that tries is certainly destroyed. In this case, the portal will linger for its normal duration and then close; the Exalt is aware of his failure as soon as it occurs. If the Exalt’s roll botches, he has unwittingly opened a portal to one of the many nightmare realms that line the edges of Creation and lurk in the thoughts of the Primordials; the Storyteller is encouraged to be fiendish.
At the Storyteller’s discretion, this Charm may allow travel from Creation to Malfeas, the Underworld, Yu-Shan, etc. assuming that the Exalt knows his destination. Such travel is certainly dangerous, however, as this Charm makes no guarantee for the safety of those who travel the path it opens, and denizens of the martial artist’s destination may be forwarned of his coming.
<b>Cost:1+ motes, 1 Willpower Duration: Instant Type: Extra Action Minimum Martial Arts: 7 Minimum Essence: 6 Prerequisite Charms: Refulgent Aeon Consecration, Eye-of-the-Hurricane Severance, Walking the Razor’s Edge
I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye. I do not strike with my hand; he who strikes with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I strike with my mind. I do not kill with my blade; he who kills with his blade has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart.
The martial artist gathers stillness about himself like a cloak, and into that stillness those who are witness to this Charm’s use see him strike once. To the Exalt who makes such a strike, however, it is everywhere: from the North and South, East and West, from the Center of Creation and from Heaven and the Underworld – the Seven Directions from which this Charm receives its name. As the master of this strike, the Exalt may direct it at as many opponents as he wishes, as many times as he wishes – the only limits on this attack are those of the Martial Artist himself.
Mechanically, the Exalt makes a single Martial Arts attack roll with no target. He may then apply that attack as many times as he wishes against any target or targets he chooses, regardless of distance, so long as he can perceive them. Each application of the attack costs 1 mote. The attack comes from all directions and has no physical component, and thus can only be defended against by opponents capable of defending against unperceived, immaterial attacks. No single opponent can be targeted by this attack more times than the martial artist’s permanent Essence rating. If placed in a Combo with Simple or Supplemental Charms, the cost of all such Charms must be paid for each application of the attack, though the attack need only be rolled once.
Rising Wheel Cut</b>
<b>Cost:20 motes, 1 Willpower Duration: Instant Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 7 Minimum Essence: 7 Prerequisite Charms: Seven-Directions Storm
Since the inception of this Art, legends of its greatest secret have been whispered through the Martial Arts world. Tale-tellers have given it many names, though few know the truth. In the East it is known as the End of All Dreams. In the South, duelists who dare to speak of the technique call it the Thread of Ever-After. Savants say that its creator called it the Rising Wheel Cut. But to its practitioners, it is known simply as the final lesson.
With a deadly and detached mien, the martial artist sweeps his blade toward the sky in an arc of aching beauty, and the things through which it passes on its path are forgotten. The Exalt makes a Martial Arts attack on any single target within range. Inanimate objects struck by the attack cease to exist; only Artifacts of level 5 or higher are immune to this effect. If used to strike an opponent, that character must make an immediate reflexive Essence + Willpower roll at a difficulty equal to the martial artist’s Essence; if successful, multiply the damage the target suffers after it is rolled by the martial artist’s Essence – this damage is always Lethal. If the roll fails, the target is destroyed utterly, their existence erased from the Loom of Fate. Beings with lower Essence than the martial artist lose all memory of the target ever having existed.
Spirits killed in this fashion are permanently destroyed. In the unlikely event that a Primordial fails the reflexive roll and does not use a perfect defense, they are lessened and forced to remake themselves with a new name and form. Deathlords slain in this fashion are dispersed for a year and a day before they can reconstitute themselves, and will forever bear the scar of that death on their corpus.
Apologies to Stephen King and his wonderful Dark Tower series for shamelessly stealing and mangling Roland's Lesson to get the flavor text on Seven-Directions Storm. It's painfully cool and was the primary abstract inspiration for the Charm, and I think having it there helps to explain why and how it does what it does. -- teflonshugenja
Looking back over it, I can't help but think that the costs on Unflinching Guardian and Thunderbolt Shredding Shout are a little low. I'd like to boost them to 5 and 8 motes respectively, considering their effect. I also can't help but think that Eye of the Hurricane ought to have a Willpower cost. -- teflonshugenja
Implemented the above changes. I feel better now. -- teflonshugenja
I am thoroughly impressed. The flavor of the text matches well with the effects. I am going to try and lobby my ST to allow this in his game. Of course I have to find a teacher... But with the MA styles I have already master this will be the perverbial icing on the cake. ~ Insanewizard