Expanded Martial Arts

Copyright © 1999, Tim Dugger

 

Introduction

I have always been disappointed with how generic the martial arts are represented in a system as detailed as Rolemaster. Even with the advent of the Martial Arts Companion, which does add flavor and also provides us with the concept of Styles.

Currently, martial arts is broken down into four distinct skills, or what I will call Forms for the rest of this article. Now these forms are further broken down into four degrees each, with each degree being nothing more than an arbitrary point in which an attack cannot pass, thus marking the maximum amount of damage doable by that form inside that Style.

The object of this article is not to alter anything that has been published in the Martial Arts Companion, but to expand upon it, and make it much more interesting for the player. The amount of complexity that this adds to the game is very small, as is the additional bookkeeping, especially since this is based off what is already being used.

By the end of this article, you will presented with a system of adding specific maneuvers to your Styles, to give them much more flavor and make each Style more unique in your campaign setting.

Style Basics

In the Martial Arts Companion (MAC), the GM is presented with a system for creating new and unique styles for his campaign setting. This system uses points to add different elements to the Style, and the total number of points used in creating the Style determine whether or not the Style is a Basic or Advanced one. This in turn decides how easy it is to learn that Style.

One of the key features of this system is the choosing of how many degrees may be split among the four different forms of attack (Strikes, Sweeps, Nerve Strikes, & Locking Holds). For a differing number of points, the Style can acquire 2, 5, 7, or 11 degrees to be split up however the creator of the Style wishes.

Also, according to the MAC, a style with a final cost of up to 35 points is considered a Basic Style, while any style with a final point cost above 35 is considered an Advanced Style. It is also recommended that each GM set this break point at whatever level bests suits the division between Basic and Advanced Styles for his campaign setting.

The two factors explained in the paragraphs above are very important for incorporating this system into the Style system already present.

Adding Some Punch to Your Style

One of the primary changes to the existing rules, is that each martial art style gains additional maneuvers based on the difficulty of the style.

To determine how many starting maneuvers a Style may have, just take the total point cost for the Style, divide by ten, and round up. Thus if a Style costs 35 points, you receive 4 maneuvers to go with that style, while a 60 point Style will have 6 maneuvers to use.

The number of Degrees in the style determines the maximum number of maneuvers allowable with the style. Thus if a Style had 5 degrees of attack forms, and the cost for the style was 25 points, then a character learning this style would learn 3 maneuvers when learning this style. He might at a later date learn additional maneuvers, but the maximum ever allowed would be 5 maneuvers.

If 3 of the 5 maneuvers are assigned to Strikes and 2 are assigned to Sweeps, then no maneuvers may be assigned to Nerve Strikes, or Locking Holds. Only maneuvers relating to the attack forms learned or generic maneuvers are allowed.

Generic maneuvers are those maneuvers that do not fall into one of the categories of an attack form. While these generic maneuvers are not attacks, it is important to note that they take the place of any attacks for the given round and are only successful with a successful Style skill roll.

It is possible to add more maneuvers to your style after play has begun. To do this, the character must find an individual who knows the maneuver and is willing to teach it to him. This provides a lot of opportunity for role-playing. The character may only learn a new maneuver while he is performing normal level advancement, and he has to purchase at least one rank in the attack form on which the maneuver is based. It is important that the teacher be found before advancing the skill, as after the skill has been advanced, the character must wait until his next level advancement before attempting to learn the maneuver again.

To discover whether or not the character learned the maneuver, he must make a successful MA Style roll, with the difficulty determined by the quality of the teacher, but not to be less than a Hard maneuver.

It is also important to note that only one maneuver may be learned per level, and that the total number of maneuvers may not exceed the number of degrees in the style.

It is important to note that the list of possible maneuvers is not all-inclusive, and GM's are encouraged to think up and add more maneuvers to the list.

The Moves

I have divided the list of possible moves that I have provided into four distinct groups. These are Core, Basic, Advanced, and Generic.

The Core group includes the moves taught to most beginners. These moves are taught to even those who learn Martial Arts without learning a style. These moves are learned automatically when learning Martial Arts, and are included only for completeness. They do not require or take up any slots in the Martial Arts Style. The Basic group of moves is the list from which those who have learned a Basic Style may choose their moves. The Advanced group is for those who have learned an Advanced Style. And finally, the Generic group contains maneuvers available to a character that has learned any type of style.

 

Core Maneuvers

Maneuver

Form

OB Mod

DB Mod

Special Notes

Core Strike

Strike

+0

+0

N/A

Core Sweep

Sweep

+0

+0

N/A

Core Nerve Strike

N-Strike

+0

+0

N/A

Core Locking Hold

L-Hold

+0

+0

N/A

Basic Maneuvers

Maneuver

Form

OB Mod

DB Mod

Special Notes

Fast Strike

Strike

-10

-10

Automatically strikes first this round.

Grappling Throw

L-Hold

+0

+0

Target prone if attack results in a Crit

Killing Strike

N-Strike

-15

+0

+/-5 to Crit roll

Legsweep

Sweep

+10

-15

Target prone if attack results in a Crit

Martial Grab

L-Hold

-10

-10

Target takes a second critical of one less severity on the round following a successful attack

Martial Strike

Strike

+0

+10

N/A

Martial Throw

Sweeps

+0

+10

N/A

Sacrifice Throw

Sweep

+10

+5

Both character and target are prone upon an attack resulting in a Crit

Shove

Sweep

+0

+0

Target prone if attack results in a Crit and target fails a St based RR vs. Character's lvl

Sudden Strike

N-Strike

-10

-10

Automatically strikes first this round.

Advanced Maneuvers

Maneuver

Form

OB Mod

DB Mod

Special Notes

Death Strike

N-Strike

-20

+0

+/- 10 to Crit roll

Defensive Strike

Strike

+5

+15

N/A

Killing Throw

Sweep

-10

-5

+/- 5 to Crit roll

Offensive Strike

Strike

+15

+5

N/A

Power Strike

Strike

+0

-10

Double concussion damage

Shove Takeaway

Sweep

+0

+0

+10 to Disarm maneuver next round (automatic first action of round)

Takedown

Strike

+5

+5

Target prone upon receiving Crit

Weapon Bind

L-Hold

+5

+0

Target receives Crit of one less severity, but cannot use weapon next round

Generic Maneuvers

Note: These actions take the place of an attack, and require a successful Style skill roll.

Maneuver

Form

OB Mod

DB Mod

Special Notes

Defensive Block

+5

+15

Adds to DB, gives bonus to next MA attack

Martial Block

+10

+10

Adds to DB, gives bonus to next MA attack

Martial Dodge

+0

+25

Adds to DB, gives bonus to next MA attack

Martial Escape

+0

+0

Gives a +15 to attempts to escape Locking Holds

Root

+0

+0

Gives a +15 to attempts Resist Shove

 

Pulling It All Together

Now that we have seen the system, it is time to review the important points, so that they are listed together in a format for quick review.

In Conclusion

This system may add a little more paperwork and bookkeeping to the game, but over all, the added variety will make this system worthwhile. At least in the opinion of this author.

 

Editor's Note:

And if you agree or disagree with this author, post your comments on the RMSS Discussion Board.