Fighting with Style

Copyright Steven Carpenter © 2013

Edited by Terence Wynne for The Guild Companion

"You must suspect me to attack with Capa Ferro? Naturally, but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro."

Naturally, you must suspect me to attack with Capa Ferro?
Naturally... but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don't you?

Additional style options and rules for RMSS/RMFP use of Combat Companion combat styles.

The RMC Combat Companion introduced combat styles to Rolemaster and included an option for using them with RMSS/RMFP. That option replaces the seven weapons, two martial arts, and directed spells categories with the melee, ranged, martial arts, and directed spells groups giving baseline DP costs and individual style skills in each group using the combined progression. It also recommends the GM remove or alter skills from the Combat Maneuvers category that are duplicated by style options. This article adds the option of using categories and the standard progression for combat skills and replacing the remaining Combat Maneuvers and Special Attacks skills with style options.

Note: Using Combat Styles can greatly increase the effective OB and options of characters in combat. It is highly recommended that all animals and creatures from C&M also use styles. For example, most herd/prey animals should have adrenal defense and reverse stroke. Most ambush predators should have killing strike or martial grab; chasing predators should have fast strike and might have counter and block as available maneuvers that could be learned through experience (GM fiat) or training.

Baseline and Style DP costs are determined as described in section 4.1. The character may swap the melee and ranged costs if desired at character creation but must remain fixed after that. One additional cost line is added to table 4-02 as listed below:

Baseline Cost
8+ 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 - - -

The RMSS/RMFRP Martial Arts Categories add a Grapples category to the current Strikes and Sweeps categories. The RMSS/RMFRP weapon categories include each of the Weapon Groups in table 4-03 as listed below. The Mounted Pole Arms Weapon Group is removed if the Mounted Combat options in this article are used. Stat Bonuses are listed in the table below for weapons and are ST/ST/AG for MA Strikes and Grapples, and ST/AG/AG for Sweeps.

1-Handed edged (ST/AG) Long Double-edged Blades(ST), Long Single Edged Blades(ST), Long Stabbing Weapons(ST), Short Blades(ST), Thrusting Blades(AG)
1-Handed crushing/chopping (ST/AG) Chains Plus(AG), Clubs(ST), Short Axes(ST), Short Spikes(ST)
2-Handed (ST/AG/ST) Great Blades, Great Chains, Great Clubs, Long Axes, Long Spikes
Pole Arms (ST/AG/ST) Pole Arms, Staves, (Mounted Pole Arms), Pole Axes
Missile (AG/AG) Blow Guns(CO), Bows(ST), Crossbows(IN), Slings(AG)
Thrown (AG/AG) Lines Plus(AG), Rope Weapons(AG), Thrown Blades(ST), Thrown Projectiles(ST), Whips(AG), Thrown Shafts(ST)

Two new weapon groups are added as well. The Pole Axe group under the Pole Arms category contains the Pole Axe, Halberd, and Bardiche. The Thrown Shafts group under the Thrown category contains the Spear, Pilum, Javelin, Harpoon, and Trident.

All Categories cost 3 points and use the 3-4 column on table 4-02 for their DP cost unless category option costs move them to a higher point column. They follow the normal rules for Skill Categories.

Skill ranks are developed in Weapons Styles under the appropriate category. Styles are created using the Style creation rules in the Combat Companion modified below and using table 4-02 for DP costs. As described in section 4.2, the first step in style creation is to choose a focus. For Martial Arts Focus, the primary focus for every style in a category is the tier in that attack type (Strikes, Sweeps, and Grapple). Primary and Secondary Focus may be chosen per Combat Companion with the following modifications:

Primary Martial Arts Focus: The character must decide the maximum usable Tier he would like in the attack type for the Category. A character may never have more ranks in the skill than in the Category.

Cost: 1 point per Tier level.

Secondary Martial Arts Focus: The character must decide the maximum usable Tier he would like in a secondary attack type for the style. This allows the character to use all options included in the style with either the primary or secondary attack type. Ranks must be developed in the corresponding category as well and the character may never have more ranks in the skill than in either the primary or secondary categories.

Cost: 1 point per Tier level

Example: A martial arts style based on strikes tier II with secondary sweeps tier I would be a skill in the Strikes Category but the number of ranks in the style could not exceed the number of ranks in either the Strikes or Sweeps Categories. It would be a 3 point style based on 2 points for the Tier II strikes plus 1 point for tier I Sweeps.

For Weapon Focus, the options listed in Combat Companion are used with the following modifications:

Single Weapon Focus: Style is based on a single weapon. Style may be used with other weapons in the weapon group using category bonus.

Cost: 1 Point

Secondary Weapon Focus: Adds an additional method of using an individual weapon that fits in more than one category to the style. This focus is only allowed in conjunction with the single weapon focus and the character must maintain more ranks in each category than in the skill. Common uses are to add two-handed use of a weapon that can be used one-handed (bastard sword) and thrown to a weapon that can be used in melee or thrown.

Cost: 2 Points

Example: The Three Swords style is a Single Weapon Focus style based on the 1-handed Katana that includes the Secondary Weapon Focus 2-handed Katana. Jaq has six ranks in the 2-handed category and eight in the 1-handed edged category. He can develop no more than six ranks in the style until he buys more ranks in the 2-handed category. The Three Swords style allows him to use the Katana either one or two handed. He has learned the Block maneuver in this style and can use it as well as the Deflection and Bonus Initiative options from the style in either mode.

Group Weapon Focus: As listed in Combat companion.

Cost: 4 Points

Directed Spell Focus: As listed in Combat companion.

Cost:3 Points (+2 per additional bolt)

Natural Weapon Focus: As listed in Combat companion. GM should consider creating Categories for types of natural weapons used in similar manners I.e. Bite, Claw, Trample etc. and create skill styles for each animal type.

Cost: 2 Points

All other style development rules in Combat Companion remain as written.

The following additional options are intended to expand the usefulness of styles and replace the skills in the Combat Maneuver and Special Attacks categories. If the character is using a style that has additional required items the character is not using, he suffers a -20 penalty (i.e. if the style includes shield training and the character is not using a shield he has a -20 penalty). This only applies to items required by additional options (Add/Sec Attack ‚euro" Group/Weapon, Paired Weapon Attack, Mounted Style, and Shield Training) and does not apply to using an incorrect primary weapon. The Dual Use Style option can eliminate this penalty. The multiple disarm skills, tumbling evasion, reverse stroke, two weapon fighting, and adrenal defense are described in the Combat Companion. The remaining skills from those two categories are replaced with options below.

The first is a set of options that apply to the category and increase the DP cost of category ranks. The benefits of Category Style Options apply to all style skills developed in the category as long as the GM agrees (For example, the mounted combat option should not be usable with a style that includes agile defense). The cost for Category Style Options are listed with the option below. Category Style Options may be added to the Category later in the same manner as purchasing additional specific maneuvers. No skill ranks can be purchased during the level when adding a Category Style Option to the Category and all future Category rank purchases will use the new DP cost.

Mounted Combat: This option allows the use of styles in the category while mounted (subject to GM approval). The number of effective ranks in category and skill is limited to the number of ranks in riding when used while mounted. If using the rules for mounted combat from the new optional combat rules article, the additional fumble range due to mounted pace is decreased by one for every three ranks in riding. Styles including Adrenal Defense, Agile Defense, or any Required Skill that cannot be used while riding may not be used while mounted. This option may only be taken for melee, ranged, or directed spells categories.

Cost: 5 Points

Quickdraw: This option allows the reduction of the penalty for drawing a melee weapon. As a 0% Snap Action the character may use the Category Bonus plus the number of ranks in the style used to roll on the Combat Maneuvers Static Maneuver table to draw a weapon from a scabbard. A flat -5 penalty is applied to initiative. Thrown Blades within arm‚euro(TM)s reach (i.e. not in a boot sheath) and Short Blades less than 1' (Dagger, Knife, and Dirk) are Routine maneuvers. Short and Thrusting Blades are Easy, Long Blades and Short Spikes and Axes are Light, Great Blades and Long Axes are Medium and all other melee weapons that could be drawn from a scabbard or other holder are Hard. Special scabbards or trick equipment may provide bonuses at the GM's discretion. The -20 penalty for drawing a weapon is reduced to 0 for a Success, -5 for a Near Success, -15 for a Partial Success, and -25 for a Failure. Other results on the table should be applied at the GM's discretion.

Cost: 2 Points

Example: Jaq has added the Quickdraw option to his 1-h edged category which now costs five points and all future ranks use the 5-6 column for DP costs. He is accosted by a couple of thugs in an alley and needs to draw his rapier to defend himself. Normally a weapon draw would take -20 to the OB for the round so he makes a quickdraw maneuver to try to lower that. His 11 ranks in the category, 11 ranks in Capa Ferro style, plus 10 professional bonus plus stat bonus of 11 for thrusting blades gives him a bonus of 53 and his roll of 29 on the Easy maneuver result in a 101 for a near success. He gets his rapier out and has a total OB for attack and parry of 69 based on the -5 due to the near success and his skill bonus of 64 in the Capa Ferro style with his rapier. He also has a -5 to initiative for this round.

Shipboard Combat: This option allows the use of styles in the category while on unsteady footing such as a boat on water (subject to GM approval). The number of effective ranks in category and skill is limited to the number of ranks in Tightrope Walking, Acrobatics, or Seamanship when used while on an unsteady platform. If using the rules for shipboard combat from the new optional combat rules article the additional fumble range is decreased by one for every rank in Tightrope Walking, Acrobatics, or Seamanship.

Cost: 4 Points

Additional Universal Style Options

Additional Defenses: This option allows the character to defend themselves against multiple foes. The character may shift any amount of OB individually to parry attacks from additional foes. Character suffers a -10 to OB for each additional foe and only the primary foe may be attacked. All foes must be within 10 degrees per rank as per the Additional Foes option.

Cost: 2 Points

Subdual: With this option the character makes an attack to subdue and uses the subdual critical table. This is a 100% action and the attacker may parry as with a basic attack. The OB is limited to a number of ranks in the style equal to the ranks in appropriate Lore or medical skill. (Fauna Lore should be developed separately for each type of animal; canine, feline, etc. Medical skills include animal healing (by type), second aid, surgery, and diagnostics. First Aid may use half skill ranks.)

Cost: 5 Points

TABLE 04-04 UNIVERSAL STYLE OPTIONS
Option Cost
Additional Defenses 2
Subdual 5

Additional Melee Specific Options

Deflection: Allows the character to deflect projectiles aimed at him or others using a weapon. This maneuver requires 50% activity, -1 per % activity less than 50%. More than one deflection maneuver may be attempted per round, but only once per projectile. Making an attack the same round as a deflection is permitted if the character has the required % activity but must be against the same target whose attack was deflected unless the style includes multiple attacks. The character makes a maneuver roll using the OB of this style minus the attacker‚euro(TM)s total bonus of the missile attack and looks up the result on the combat maneuvers static maneuver table. A success indicates the missile is deflected. Anything less than success adds twice the indicated subsequent action modifier to the defended characters DB vs. that missile (i.e. the subsequent action modifier for a failure is -5 so the DB is modified by -10). Thrown weapons are an Extremely Hard maneuver, missile weapons are a Sheer Folly maneuver. Shields add the shield bonus to the roll. Daggers, knives, quarterstaffs, and crushing weapons are modified by -10, two handed weapons by -20, and thrown and missile weapons by -40.

Cost: 6 Points

Dual Use Style: This option expands the usefulness of styles that have multiple requirements. If the style has an option that adds an additional weapon, this option allows the style to be used as if the additional requirement did not exist (i.e. for a style based on two weapon combat, this option allows the style to be used with only the primary weapon).

Cost: 2 Points

Example: The GM is creating a style for the mounted nobility of his kingdom including the Mounted Style and Shield Training options. If someone using the style is on foot and loses his shield he would normally have to use a different style or suffer a -20 penalty since he no longer has the requirements the style was built around. If this option is included, the GM has a single style that can be used with or without the shield or dismounted.

Off-Hand Use: This option allows the character to use the style with either hand (the character does not have to learn the style separately as a different skill). The -20 for the normal off-hand penalty of non-ambidextrous characters still applies. This option may be added after style creation. DP cost is treated the same as learning a new specific maneuver.

Cost: 2 Points

Mounted Style: This option allows the character to use his mount as part of the attack on an opponent. No separate % is required for the riding maneuvers associated with attacking and the character can select the attack type for the mount (for horses, bite or rearing/crush). This style includes the Mounted Strike maneuver as its basic attack at no cost. The Mounted Combat category option is required as a pre-requisite and the character must have as many ranks in riding as in this style.

Cost: 3 Points

TABLE 04-05 MELEE WEAPON OPTIONS
Option Cost
Deflection 6
Dual Use Style 2
Off-Hand Use 2
Mounted Style 3

Additional Missile Specific Options

Off-Hand Use: This option allows the character to use the style with either hand. (The character does not have to learn the style separately as a different skill.) The -20 for the normal off-hand penalty of non-ambidextrous characters still applies. This option may be added after style creation. DP cost is treated the same as learning a new specific maneuver.

Cost: 1 Point

TABLE 04-06 MISSILE/THROWN WEAPON OPTIONS
Option Cost
Off-Hand Use 1

Additional Martial Arts Specific Options

Adrenal Deflection: Allows the character to deflect projectiles. This maneuver requires 50% activity, -1 per % activity less than 50%. More than one deflection maneuver may be attempted per round, but only once per projectile. Making an attack the same round as a deflection is permitted if the character has the required % activity but must be against the same target whose attack was deflected unless the style includes multiple attacks. The character makes a maneuver roll using the OB of this style minus the attacker‚euro(TM)s total bonus of the missile attack and looks up the result on the combat maneuvers static maneuver table. A success indicates the missile is deflected. Anything less than success adds twice the indicated subsequent action modifier to the defended characters DB vs. that missile. (I.e. the subsequent action modifier for a failure is -5 so the DB is modified by -10.) Thrown weapons are an Extremely Hard maneuver, missile weapons are a Sheer Folly maneuver. Near and partial success result in an A puncture critical to the hand/arm as well as any other results from the attack.

Cost: 5 Points

Brawling: With this option the style uses the brawling attack and critical charts. The style is limited to tier one or two. Tier one attacks are treated as small, tier two are medium, unless items are used as weapons. In this case use the guidelines on the brawling attack chart.

Cost: 0 Points +1 Point for Tier II.

TABLE 04-07 MARTIAL ARTS OPTIONS
Option Cost
Adrenal Deflection 5
Brawling 0/1

Additional Specific Maneuvers

Catch missile (04-09; 04-10): Allows the character to attempt to catch a thrown weapon. Style must already have Adrenal Deflection. Character may add the number of skill ranks in juggling to the attempt. This maneuver requires 100% activity the round it is used. A deflection attempt is made as described under Adrenal Deflection with difficulty increased by one level with the exception of thrown spears, javelins and other large pointed weapons. Success indicates the weapon was caught. If desired the character may make a thrown attack with the weapon if the character has a style including it in the same round. OB may be moved from the maneuver roll to the attack OB on a one for one basis.

Cost: 1 Point

Counter (04-08; 04-09; 04-10; 04-11): This maneuver is used to counter a specific style used against the character. It must be learned separately for each style countered. The character may add the lower of his ranks in this style or the number of ranks he has in the countered style or in style lore for the countered style to both his OB and DB if the opponent is using that style. If the opponent is using a specific maneuver as part of the style that the character does not know (i.e. it is an allowed maneuver that the character has not purchased) the character may only add half the number of ranks known. An attack is made normally as with a basic strike/sweep/grapple. If the opponent is not using the countered style the character does not get the bonus and suffers a penalty of -5 but may make a successful situational awareness ‚euro" combat roll to determine the style used and change to a different counter or basic attack with a -10 penalty. Animal and Creature attacks can be considered styles for purposes of this option.

Cost: 1 Point

Example: Dan attacks Jaq using the Capa Ferro style and a Basic Swing. Jaq responds with the Thibault style which includes the counter (Capa Ferro) option. Jaq has 10 ranks in the style for a total OB of 60 and has 8 ranks in Capa Ferro so he can add 8 to his OB and DB. If he puts 20 to parry he has a total 48OB and 28DB. If Dan has learned and uses the Killing Strike Maneuver which Jaq has not learned, Jaq only gets to add 4 for a total of 44OB and 24DB. When Dan switches to a different style, Jaq will need to recognize the change and switch himself or his totals will drop to 35OB and 20 DB.

Jousting (04-11): Allows the character to make a jousting attempt to hit a target. This maneuver requires 100% activity the round it is used. This option can only be taken for a style that includes the jousting lance and mounted style. A maneuver roll is made on the Special Attacks Maneuver table using the OB with the style as the skill bonus. Modifications to the roll are listed in SoHK.

Cost: 1 Point

Mounted Attack (04-11): This maneuver can only be taken if the style includes the mounted style option. This maneuver allows the rider to attack a target while directing the mount to make an attack on the same or a separate target within 10'. The character may also transfer OB to his mount up to the number of ranks in the style.

Cost: 1 Point

Mounted Charge (04-11): This maneuver can only be taken if the style includes the mounted style option and the character knows the Mounted Attack maneuver. The character can direct the mount to charge one or more opponents. If the rider‚euro(TM)s weapon reach is less than the of the mount, the mount makes a charge attack first and as long as the target remains standing the rider may make an attack as well. If the riders reach is longer, the rider attacks first and the mount second. Both get the advantage of the charge and the rider may transfer up to the number of ranks in this style from riders OB to the mounts OB.

Cost: 1 Point

Mounted Defense (04-11): This maneuver can only be taken if the style includes the mounted style option. This type of parry allows the character to defend his mount as well as himself and may be performed in the same round as an attack. However, this maneuver requires that the character devotes 100% of his activity to this maneuver in the round in which it is performed. For every 3 points subtracted from OB, the character gains 2 points to his DB and can apply half that amount to the mounts DB. Additionally, the character receives a -5 modifier to his initiative for the round.

Cost: 1 Point

Mounted Strike (04-11): This maneuver is common to all styles that include the mounted style option and as such costs no points to include. This is the basic strike for mounted combat using the mount as part of the attack. The rider can choose which of the mounts attack types are used or prevent it from attacking. He may also make an attack of his own against the same target.

Cost: 0 Points

Example: Having survived Jaq's recent attack on him, his arch-enemy Dan mounts his own horse and returns to combat. He has 9 ranks in the 1-handed edged category with the Mounted Combat category option and 9 ranks in the Faranthin Cavalry style which includes the mounted style option and he has learned both the mounted attack and defense maneuvers. Neither opponent is charging but they are moving around each other for advantage and the horses are treated as walking increasing the fumble range by 2. Dan's category ranks would reduce the fumble range due to being mounted by 3 which eliminates the fumble increase. Dan chooses to use the Mounted Defense maneuver since he is worried about Jaq attacking his mount. He has a total skill bonus of 58 in the style and uses 30 of it to parry. This gives him a total DB of 29, adds 10 to his mounts DB and leaves 28OB remaining to attack with. With the +10 for deliberate action and +10 for full melee attack, his total OB for attack would be 48. He also can choose his mount's attack and decides his mount will try to bite Jaq. Jaq still has to dedicate 20% of his activity to control his horse resulting in a penalty of -20. He has a skill of 60 which combined with the deliberate full melee attack and 80% activity gives him a total OB of 60. He uses 30 to parry giving him a 30DB and 30OB to attack Dan. If he wants to make his mount attack as well he needs to use more activity and a riding maneuver. The next round Dan decides to use the Mounted Attack maneuver instead and using the same OB/DB split and attacks has 39DB, 39OB and adds 9 to his mounts OB for a rearing attack on Jaq's mount.

Swashbuckling (04-11): Allows character to make flashy and impressive maneuvers with a weapon. This maneuver requires 100% activity the round it is used. A maneuver roll is made on the Combat Maneuvers table using the OB with the style as the skill bonus. Modifications to the roll are listed in SoHK.

Cost: 1 Point

TABLE 04-11 MELEE WEAPON MANEUVERS
Name Cost OB DB Crit Init
Counter 1 -5# 0 0 0
Jousting 1 -1* 0 0 0
Mounted Attack 1 -1** 0 0 0
Mounted Charge 1 -1** 0 0 0
Mounted Defense 1 -3 2 0 -5#
Mounted Strike 0 0 0 0 0
Swashbuckling 1 -1* 0 0 0
* = -1OB transfers to +1 static maneuver bonus
** = -1 OB transfers to +1 OB for mount
#= Bonus is static and cannot be modified
TABLE 04-09/10 MA Striking/Sweeps MANEUVERS
Name Cost OB DB Crit Init
Catch missile 1 -1* 0 0 0
Counter 1 -5# 0 0 0
* = -1OB transfers to +1 static maneuver bonus
#= Bonus is static and cannot be modified

In addition to the benefits of a high category skill it should also be easier to learn a new style if you already know a style that is very similar. If a character learning a style already knows a style in the weapon group that either includes all the options of the new style or is only missing one option from the new style, the new style may be developed at a faster pace than normal. Available and Known Maneuvers do not count in this comparison. As long as the new style has fewer ranks than the existing style it should be treated as Occupational for Fighters and Everyman for everyone else. Professions that are combinations with Arms may choose categories that treat any style in the same category with fewer ranks than an existing style as Everyman. Fighters may choose all categories, Rogues and Thieves may choose two, Paladins, Rangers, Armsmasters, and Warrior Mages may choose one. The Occupational or Everyman modification can never raise a style above or equal to the number of ranks in the higher style.

Example: Jaq has 7 ranks in both the 1-handed edged category and the Capa Ferro Style. He is interested in learning the Thibault Style and devotes enough DP to purchase 2 ranks. Since the Capa Ferro style has no options only maneuvers and the Thibault style's only option is Bonus Initiative, it meets the requirements of a similar style and is treated as Everyman giving Jaq 4 ranks. If he does the same thing again next level, the first purchased rank is treated as Everyman giving him 6 ranks, but since the second purchased rank would increase it above the Capa Ferro style it is treated as Normal giving him 7 ranks in the both styles. If Jaq was a fighter the style would be Occupational and he would get 6 ranks but would have to pay full price the next level. He would also be able to treat every style in the category as Everyman as long as it was lower than his ranks in Capa Ferro.